#TirgearrTuesday – One Night in Tampa by Angelique Migliore

Blended Worlds Are Better Worlds


Mari Fuentes is running her first 5K race—dreaming about the grant she hopes to win for her next documentary—when she discovers Convivio “Viv” Ricco—former ordnance soldier, wounded warrior with deadly Italian sex appeal, and notorious smartass—is keeping up with her. Finishing the race together is just the start to her day.


Viv is new to the Tampa area, and even though he’s hotter than the sand on a Florida beach in August and doesn’t need any distractions, Mari agrees to spend the day with him to show him around.


Viv thinks Mari is the most determined woman he’s ever met. But even as her passion bubbles to the surface, he can’t convince her to stay with him. She has an exclusive community event to attend that he isn’t allowed to attend. Nevertheless, Viv embarks on a new mission to become the most import celebrity Tampa has ever embraced.


If Viv can’t steal Mari away for one night, how will he ever steal her heart?

• • •

 

Mariposa del Pilar Fuentes

I smiled at myself and inhaled a deep breath of pride as I ran along with the thinning masses. Being a slow runner had its advantages as the route along Bayshore Boulevard wasn’t nearly as crowded now as in the beginning. And running my first 5K proved doable as long as I focused on something else—like something other than the sweat tickling its way down in between my tetas. I gave my modest bosom a quick, hopefully inconspicuous, shake to dislodge any other would-be travelers, and I said a quick “thank you” to Santa Maria del Pilar for my no more than B cups. My big ass required enough attention—from care to clothes. I didn’t know how the bigger-breasted girls managed boob sweat in the Tampa Bay humidity. I crossed myself on their behalf. Dios las bendiga, señoritas.

I ran to finish this race, but the excitement of finishing grad school also spurred me on. How much dinero did I need, exactly? I mentally ticked off a list in my brain of everything left to schedule for my final documentary project. Cinematographer. Sound recordist. Van, plus driver. Luckily, I would be the scriptwriter and the editor, so I still had a choice to pay myself a stipend or not. It wasn’t as if I lacked my own money, but that negated the skills required to successfully budget for a documentary.

The stipend decision could wait until after the fundraiser tonight. I already had the production management software, and I would use the university’s studio to edit. The marketing dollars and cents still required calculations, but that part of my graduate project and thesis challenged me the most. More time, however, couldn’t be bought at any price. Grad school completion hung in the cool morning air in front of my face like a fat, juicy carrot.

My first documentary on the homeless population of Tampa Bay exceeded my benchmark for success last year, and I intended to further my investigations this year with an expanded project.

A refreshingly cool early-spring breeze blew over me from the gulf. The sun barely broke the horizon and was peeking through the ‘land of the flowers.’ Foot races around here had to start super early, else the runners dropped like flies when it got too hot. My reward for all this early-morning training and running: tickets to the Strawberry Festival with unlimited strawberries and whipped cream! Also, the beautiful Spanish-tiled houses, towering waterfront palms, and skyline of downtown Tampa painted a picture-perfect running route.

If I weren’t running, I wouldn’t be breaking a sweat, but the weather would change soon. The homeless who were forced to live in the elements would get uncomfortable before long, and it would be harder for me to find them when the weather increased to sweltering. I needed the money to make the documentary sooner rather than later. I swallowed hard and swallowed my pride even harder at the idea of the ball tonight and what I had signed myself up for to make sure I had the money sooner.

I erased thoughts of my impending humiliation out of my mind and took in my surroundings. With Davis Islands and the water on my right and the convention center’s bright blue columns in sight down the boulevard, I heard the finish line nearing as the music and celebrations pounded their way to me. It was time to get my head out of the clouds and back into this race.

Even at my fastest, I still ran pretty slow compared to everyone else, so I stayed to the far-right side of the lane. I adjusted my sunglasses, glanced down at the track, and jumped as if I had been assaulted in a B-rated horror movie.

“¡Mierda!” I screamed at the sneaker as I jumped over it, and as if the sneaker didn’t scare me bad enough, something hung out of the shoe. A foot? Without a leg attached to it? “¡Dios Mio!”

I changed direction, screamed again, and flailed my hands in front of my face in the most pathetic attempt to rid my eyes of the sight. Oh, God, I think I’m going to be sick.

An evil laugh—no, a hysterical laugh—belted out beside me. I found the owner of said laugh, and all I could see was a neon green racing shirt which, not coincidentally, matched the one I wore. The race shirt spread taut over a chest as wide as Cuba with a thick arm on either side, and its owner leaned up against a streetlight pole with one hand and held his gut with the other, as he all but pointed and laughed at me.

• • •

While in her third year of French at high school, Angelique was forced to journal every day. Never the lover of her own personal diaries, she instead rewrote Romeo and Juliet, en Françias. Except that Romeo was a duck-billed platypus, and Juliet was a strawberry. It was a doomed, albeit deliciously sweet, relationship from the start.

Long before that, Angelique wrote and performed ridiculously caddy commercials in grade school with her best friend Shannon. Ever the optimist, she believes the best is yet to come, sharing a meal is the quickest route to peace, and love conquers all. Although she was born and raised in the paradise that is the Emerald Coast of the Florida Panhandle, not traveling has never been an option for Angelique.

Today, Angelique writes character-driven love stories of various heat levels in settings from Earth to the nearest Black Hole which range from the Cosmic past to the Inter-galactic future. She also loves rugby. And champagne. With fresh raspberries, if you please.

• • •

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